by Alex Ferron

Convenience is one of the biggest hurdles we face in the fight to reduce single-use plastics. For many of us, convenience is no longer a luxury but a requirement to simply maintain our busy lives. 

While many modern conveniences are “non-essentials,” water is non-negotiable. 

In an ideal world, we’d all fill our reusable bottles rather than rely on packaged water. Unfortunately, “ideal” isn’t always realistic.  In order to be effective changemakers, we need to meet people where they are in life & learn how to serve them better.

As a locally based health food market with 5 locations in San Diego County, Jimbo’s has always balanced their ethics and the needs of the community with the need to maintain a profitable business- after all, you can’t serve a community if you can’t keep your doors open.

When Jimbo opened his first grocery store, he committed to the idea of applying the same guidelines to his store as in his home— no white sugar, no harmful chemicals or preservatives, and organic/local ingredients whenever possible.

That mission just expanded exponentially.

Two weeks ago, Jimbo’s Naturally introduced a wonderfully wild concept at their newly opened Carmel Valley location: a plastic-free water aisle.

The new store’s water aisle is comprised primarily of glass, a significant amount of aluminum, and boxed water. They also offer a large container refill station – with your choice of reverse osmosis or alkaline –  as well as a free bottle refill station at the front of the store that dispenses the same high quality reverse osmosis water.

But that’s not all! A short video plays on repeat above the free refill station, educating customers about the threat plastic pollution poses to ourselves and to our environment.  

Last but not least, right beside the dispenser is a small “Karma” bank card terminal that encourages customers to quickly donate to a fantastic non-profit leading the charge in the fight to protect our ocean, waves and beaches.  If you haven’t guessed yet… It’s us! It’s Surfrider!

Now let's take a stroll through the Jimbo's plastic free water aisle:

This is HUGE. By opening the first plastic-free water aisle on the West Coast, Jimbo’s Naturally has set a new precedent for how water can and should be offered in every store.

For the sake of comparison – and to truly appreciate what Jimbo has done to break the mold –  here is a quick pan of what America’s largest health food store looks like (hint – it’s Whole Foods):

Bleak to say the least.

And when you step out of the high-end health food market and into a conventional big chain grocer, your few non-plastic options disappear completely:

If this tells you anything, it’s that our system is broken. Thanks to Jimbo’s example, we know plastic-free is possible. We have lived without it before, and we can maintain our lifestyles while getting rid of it.

Health and environmental coexistence shouldn’t be a prize awarded only to those who have the time and money to seek it out. It should be accessible for all.

So please join us as we vote with our dollars and thank Jimbo’s Naturally for setting this example. With Jimbo’s leading the way, it’s time to let the beverage industry know that plastic-free isn’t a wishlist item, it’s a requirement.